Although things seem to finally be winding down after the dual “Infinity” and “Inhumanity” events, the peace isn’t destined to last long for Luke Cage and his crew as an old foe rears his ugly head. Al Ewing and Valerio Schiti’s “Mighty Avengers” #6 gives the team a moment of downtime, meandering around New York City as they each take a breather in his or her own way, giving readers their first glimpse of the team in a low-key setting. With some genuinely heartfelt character moments, the issue does feel a little hodgepodge at times as it quickly and repeatedly shifts focus, trying to cram in almost too much development for one book; on the other hand, Schiti’s work is consistently and wonderfully detailed, a giant step up from Greg Land’s previous work on the series.
With an eight-person (and continuously growing) team, the Mighty Avengers blends old favorites with a few newer names. Ewing juggles the group well for the most part, slipping in personality traits and motivations for the newer heroes while accenting those of the old. However, in the rush to fit in all of this information while also laying the groundwork for a new conflict, it simply feels like each character got jilted out of some due development, especially Ava and her personal vendetta. Nevertheless, the issue gets the necessary legwork out of the way, like moving Luke and Jessica out of the Gem Theater, going more in depth with Power Man’s abilities, and fleshing out the relationship between Luke and the Blue Marvel. What’s more, Ewing squeezes in some strong, almost meta commentary on the importance of representation through speeches delivered by the more established characters; where this could sound preachy or patronizing under different hands, the statements fit appropriately in the plot and — in fact — help define both characters as leaders.
Valerio Schiti continues to blow me away with his absolutely stellar work in this issue. When the plot calls for a detailed unpacking scene, Schiti grabs the opportunity with both hands and owns it, packing in hilarious little nods to Luke and Jess’s personalities; from Luke’s old costume to a stuffed Wolverine doll to a collection of Nirvana records, there are tons of moments where a reader will benefit from a closer look. For instance, as Kenny Driscoll pounds down the alleyways of New York, he finds himself followed not only by pigeons but by bird-themed graffiti. The thought and care he puts in his work is evident as he pays close attention to the smaller details such as a reflection of the city landscape in water, the grips on Ava’s boots, and Jessica’s Captain America keychain. He even manages to slip in a nod to his previous work on “Journey into Mystery” with a pizza box that belongs to the “God of Pizza” company.
Likewise, none of his characters are static for even a moment of page time; they are constantly moving, doing things like posing for pictures, singing with a guitar accompaniment, or unpacking even as they’re pushed to the background. His figure work is beyond impressive, utilizing facial expressions in full through raised eyebrows, wrinkled noses, and twisted mouths. His posturing also works beautifully alongside Ewing’s text, just as expressive if not more so than his striking and occasionally hilarious facial work. Schiti’s work is creative, engaging, and dynamic. Additionally, Frank D’Armata provides some decent work with colors for a decidedly bright and clear world, even if his choice for Jessica’s standardly dark hair is a bit confusing at first.
“Mighty Avengers” is just starting to find its own voice now that the dramatic, universe-spanning events have concluded. With a bit of a stumble just out the gate, the series struggles towards and ultimately succeeds in finding its own unique identity outside of “Infinity” and “Inhumanity” with Ewing’s solid if complicated storytelling and Schiti’s incredible artwork.